Texans asked to limit electricity use after six power plants went down ahead of a hot weekend

10 months 1 week 1 day ago Friday, May 13 2022 May 13, 2022 May 13, 2022 6:18 PM May 13, 2022 in News - AP Texas Headlines
Source: https://www.texastribune.org/
A boat traveled along Lake Travis during a drought in the summer of 2011. After six power plants unexpectedly went offline, Texans are being asked to conserve electricity during a hot May weekend. Credit: REUTERS/Joshua Lott

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After six power plants went down unexpectedly Friday — and with hot weather expected across Texas this weekend — the Electric Reliability Council of Texas on Friday evening is asking consumers to conserve electricity through Sunday.

Texans are asked to set their thermostats to 78 degrees or above between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. this weekend and to avoid using large appliances at home during those same times.

A spokesperson for ERCOT, which operates the state’s main power grid, told The Texas Tribune he does not expect there to be electricity blackouts this weekend.

ERCOT did not say why the plants unexpectedly tripped offline. All reserve power was operating to support the grid, the agency said.

Power grids must keep supply and demand in balance at all times. When Texas’ grid falls below its safety margin of excess supply, the grid operator starts taking additional precautions to avoid blackouts. The first precaution is to ask the public to cut back electricity usage.

April and May are referred to as “shoulder months” in the energy world. That’s the time of year when power plants go offline in order to conduct necessary maintenance and other repairs before the hot summer months.

ERCOT, however, has recently told multiple power generation companies to delay maintenance on their equipment so the grid could keep up with the hotter-than-usual temperatures recently, which in turn leads to elevated demand for power when Texans crank their air conditioners.

ERCOT did not say whether maintenance delays contributed to Friday’s power plant outages.

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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2022/05/13/texas-power-conservation-heat/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

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